Plaintiff John Colwell, an inmate in the Nevada Department of Corrections, is blind in one eye due to a
cataract. It is undisputed that his treating doctors recommended cataract surgery and that the surgery would restore his vision. However, the surgery was denied by NDOC supervisory medical personnel because of the NDOC’s 'one eye policy' – cataract surgery is refused if an inmate can manage to function in prison with one eye.
We hold today, as numerous other courts considering the question have, that blindness in one eye caused by a cataract is a serious medical condition. We also hold that the blanket, categorical denial of medically indicated surgery solely the basis of an administrative policy that 'one eye is good enough for prison inmates' is the paradigm of deliberate indifference. We reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the prison officials and remand for trial."
Judge Bybee dissents.